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  • James Tam 谭炳昌

A Little Soho Story 蘇豪區的小故事

Ah! Soho! Sounds so Chinese. But the name originated in London, probably as hunting grounds for Henry Number Eight and friends. Nobody’s sure. Gradually, the area was taken over by brothels and bars and restaurants, pleasure establishments favoured by privileged gentlemen after shooting foxes. Since the 1980s, prostitutes have been replaced by high margin shops and posh restaurants. Foxes had been long gone.

蘇豪這個名字很有中國味道,出處卻在倫敦。據說蘇豪區原來是亨利八號和哥們的狩獵場。貴族獵狐完畢,都要輕鬆一下。於是妓院,酒吧和食肆慢慢蓬勃起來。自八十年代後,貨真價實的妓女雖然佔地不多,也難逃被貨真價不實的高級商鋪取代。不知為何,蘇豪這名字甚受歡迎。紐約抄了之後,香港又抄。美國人抄襲肯定有一番道理,說 Soho 代表 South of Houston 街。於是香港連這命名之術也照抄,話 Soho 代表 「荷里活道之南」 -South of Hollywood 才真。其實 Soho 位置在歌賦街以北,叫做 No Go (North of Gough Street)會較有創意。不過香港的強項是抄襲,和取笑大陸人抄襲,不是創新。

The name Soho attracts copycats for some reason. It’s been recycled in New York and Hong Kong at least. Soho, after due American justification, means South of Houston Street in NYC. Hong Kong feels the need to copy semanticity as well, and claims it stands for South of Hollywood Road. But Soho Hong Kong is also north of Gough Street. Why not call it NoGo instead? Too original I suppose. I personally prefer the vagueness of Soho London; truly seminal things tend to be shrouded by time, elusive to definition.

Soho Hong Kong is a nice area to eat and drink. Boutiques are less prominent here than in London or New York. The other day, in a bout of nostalgia, I took my camera for a tour of the neighbourhood in which I was born and raised, and still live. I could hardly believe the changes I saw. I’ve evidently been observant only when travelling in strange places, but blind in my own strange backyard.

香港蘇豪不是購物中心,卻是個飲食好去處, 故亦稱為「荷南美食區」。前幾天一時興起,拿了照相機在這個住了一輩子的社區溜達,拍了些照片。旅遊外地時,我很留意周圍,什麼都覺得新奇,值得拍照留念。想不到自己出生長大的社區,幾十年來改變不少,卻沒有注意。

The Morning After 狂歡之後

Adjacent to Soho is Lan Kwai Fong. The bar area generates more garbage in one evening than residents in the old days did in a year. Some regard throwing beer bottles right where they stand to be cool, a reflection of some kind of universal values. Hey, they paid for their drinks, so can do whatever they wish with it. It's their rights. Liberty you know. One of the most common work injuries for the minimum-waged workers cleaning up the early morning after is cuts from broken bottles.


Urban Reincarnation 城市新陳代謝

The area, once dominated by the wet market which is still here, was called “San Shi Jian” — The 30 Shops? — for reason unknown to me. It’s now a mosaic of the old and new, awkwardly fitted next to each other with so little fuss that hardly anyone notices. This is a wonderful character of Hong Kong which I hope will survive.

這一帶原來主要是個街市,記得父母輩籠統叫作 「三十間」,典故不得而知。「三十間」 這別名已鮮為人知,但部分街市仍在。今天的蘇豪,新舊建築商鋪食肆夾雜,格格不入,卻融洽得不起眼。這是香港一個很可愛的特色,希望可以保留吧。

Mushrooming into the future the way fungus do...


A new bar called “Angkor Wat” opening soon?


Vestiges of yesterday going strong into tomorrow


幾十年如一日的 “公利” 竹蔗水,反潮流地真材實料,只此一家!

Gong Li Sugar Cane, my childhood favourite, is stubbornly unfashionable, using real sugar canes and mechanical squeezers. It makes the best sugar cane juice anywhere. (公利的招牌是右寫到左的,已經很少見) (The Gong Li signs are written from right to left, a rare find today)

Man Mo Temple 文武廟

Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, built right after the First Opium War in 1847, is the largest Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. Man Mo means "Literature and Martial Arts", a much emphasised balance that had been lost in China by then. The temple is still as popular as ever. Perhaps this classical equilibrium remains just as relevant in the 21st century?


Forgotten Roots 被遺忘了的根

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